Well, this year is only the third year in the past 22 where I haven’t been at SPIEL in Essen… But, that’s not to say that I’m not trying to keep tabs on all the new games. Admittedly, as the years have gone, it has become easier to learn about the games given the Interwebs, and especially due to W. Eric Martin’s SPIEL geeklist on BGG. In the old days, there was essentially zero information on games; these days, it’s rare to not be able to read thru the full rules, and possibly have a playthrough video at your fingertips, prior to the start of the show.
And, while I couldn’t make the show – there were still a number of games that I am eagerly anticipating (as I was able to get a friend to pick up a small number of games and post them back to me!)
Gutenberg – Granna
A game about the first printing presses with an interesting gear mechanism. Like Tzokin (from a few years ago), I love the idea of the rotating gears, and that alone is enough to sell me on it. Also, this one is high on my list as there is no English distribution for the game, so if I didn’t get a copy from the show, it is unclear how I would accomplish this easily in the future. (I did later find out that Granna is selling them on their website and shipping them – but man, paying individually for shipping on games from Europe is something I’d just as soon avoid)
Mille Fiori – Schmidt
Yeah, I know I don’t always like them, but I’m a sucker for new Knizia games, so this was one of the ones near the top of my list. From what I can tell, you play cards to determine where you can play your pieces to the board (all in the name of making glass) – but then you have to pass the rest of your hand to the next player.
Lisbon Tram 28 – mebo
mebo is one of the old school game companies from Portugal, initially known for their super complex games (see Panamax) – but in recent years, they have been trending to the lighter end of the spectrum. The famous Lisbon tram line is on my bucket list of things to do as a tourist, and since I can’t travel anywhere this year, I’m really hoping that this game transports me to the old city and I can pretend I’m taking in the sights there.
Snowhere – NSV
Each year, I like seeing what little treasures there are to find as the NSV booth, and in recent years, this has meant the addition of one or two Steffen Benndorf games to the collection. In this cooperative games, players work together to try to extinguish the fires on 111 cards that are splayed on the table. On the bright side, at least we should be able to communicate openly here!
Bad Company – Aporta
Aporta games have been one of my favorite little labels recently. Initially, they did roll and writes, but they have branched out a bit in the past few years. The Magnificent was a really good title from the last SPIEL that I attended. This year, Bad Company has you building your own gang of 11 members, but the catch here is that you can improve the members by overlapping cards. As you are working on your gang, you drive your car thru the city and try to perform heists.
Riverside – Chilifox
This is a new company, headed up in part by Eilif Svensson – the designer of Mangrovia and the aforementioned The Magnificent. This is a roll and write with a modular board; the theme here that you are a tour guide trying to show people all the different sights.
Messina 1347 – Delicious Games
Delicious Games, in their short existence, has mostly produced games on the more complex side (Underwater Cities, Praga Caput Regni) – and this year’s offering seems to be in the same vein. Messina 1347 takes place during the introduction of the plague epidemic (a.k.a. the “black death”) and the spreading of its infection through town. During this time period, merchant ships delivering luxury goods to Europe brought to these countries an unprecedented epidemic — and one of the first affected cities was Messina, Italy. In the game, players take the role of important Messina families who are leaving town and moving to the countryside out of fear of being infected by the plague.
Salvage – La Mame games
So, as you may or may not know, my local group has a trick taking problem. In that, we have to find, procure and play all of the trick taking games. This illness is so severe that one of the guys in my group hosts an annual convention devoted to playing these sorts of games! Salvage is described as “a simple trick-taking game that combines the fun of Hearts with the assessment of Oh Hell and the fairness of duplicate Bridge” The theme? An oil tanker is on fire and you are a rescue team sent to deal with it. You will take damage as you put out the fires, but before the operation begins you can salvage oil as an insurance against the costs you expect to suffer. I mean, it’s gotta be good, right? Anyways, the guys in my group as well as the guys on the OG mailing list keep talking about it, so I’m trying to get a copy. La Mame usually makes things in limited runs, so if I don’t get it at SPIEL, chances of getting it otherwise are nil.
Carcassonne SPIEL 2021 bonus tile – Hans im Gluck
Each year, HiG has a special bonus tile that is usually only available at the fair. Given this year is also the 20th anniversary – surely this special tile is a must have?! Of course, they are apparently making it available on their webshop this year, but it seems like it would just be traditional to get it at the fair. So, I’m having my helper pick one up just in case.
Stichtag – Ravensburger
Remember that Trick-taking compulsion I mentioned earlier? Well, what about this one – it has a flip-calendar-like thing which allows you to play a different trick taking game each day of the year. Actually, there are supposedly even more combinations as who is going to stop me from playing October 38th? I honestly don’t know much else about it, and frankly, given the TT nature, I didn’t need to know much more about it. From what I can tell, Ravensburger USA isn’t planning to do this one, so I’ll have to get a German copy and like it. As Ravensburger is mainstream, I’m pretty sure that I could eventually get this from amazon.de – but since I’m already having a big box shipped to me, easier to lump it all together.
Cartzzle – Jeux Opla
My only other experience with Jeux Opla was a number of small games that emulated little carnival amusements- Hop le j’ton was one of them… This year, they are promoting an intriguing combination of cards and puzzles, and they have coined the portmanteau “Cartzzle” as the title. It appears that the challenge here is to overlay the different cards in order to replicate the original illustration. Then, when you’ve managed to do this, there are some other “challenges” that need to be solved. Honestly, I don’t know any more than that – and I’m hoping that Simon comes thru for me with one (or a full set) of these to play with. If he doesn’t, my sources tell me that these will be available at philibert, so I guess I could always order them later…
Assuming things all go to plan, I hope to have a box shipped to me within a week, and they’ll all hopefully be here before December – and then we can play them and review them on the blog. Too bad a spiral potato or a chimney cake won’t survive the trip!
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor